Alan I. Rothenberg Receives Prestigious FIFA Order of Merit Award
At the annual FIFA Congress in Munich on June 7, FIFA awarded its most prestigious honor on Alan I. Rothenberg, U.S. Soccer’s President from 1990 through 1998.
June 10, 2006
HAMBURG, Germany (June 11, 2006) — At the annual FIFA Congress in Munich on June 7, FIFA awarded its most prestigious honor on Alan I. Rothenberg, U.S. Soccer’s President from 1990 through 1998.
“This is a great honor and it is very gratifying to be recognized by FIFA in this way,” said Rothenberg in receiving the award. “Throughout the past two decades, the growth of the sport of soccer in the United States has moved us into a category among the world’s elite and it is certainly rewarding to be acknowledged for having contributed to that progress.”
Rothenberg is widely credited as the man who brought an era of professionalism to U.S. Soccer in the years surrounding the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States. Under Rothenberg’s guidance, soccer gained new prominence on the sporting landscape in the United States.
The 1994 World Cup has been hailed as the most successfully World Cup ever staged, with a record 3.5 million fans filling stadiums at nine venues across the United States. In the years heading into the tournament, the international press publicly opined that the tournament would likely be played in front of half empty stadiums and with little interest from coast-to-coast. However, the tournament was an overwhelming success, with an operating surplus that served as the initial funding source for the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
At the club level, the 67-year-old Rothenberg was the founder and chairman of Major League Soccer, for which he was honored when the league named their championship trophy after him, dubbing it the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy during their inaugural season in 1996.
Rothenberg also served as Chairman of the historic 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup and as the commissioner of soccer for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for the overall Olympic soccer tournament (which drew the largest crowds of any sport at the ’84 Games).
Rothenberg is just the sixth American to receive the distinguished FIFA award, previously bestowed to Michelle Akers, Gene Edwards, Doug Ivester , Dr. Henry Kissinger and U.S. Soccer referee assessor Fernando Alvarez.